SHILLONG: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma said on Thursday that connectivity in the Northeast remains a core issue and a matter of great concern.
"The connectivity issue is something that we really need to look. No matter how many platforms we come out with, if connectivity is not there, it will defeat half the purpose of all the exercise that we do," he told delegates at the 22nd National Conference on e-Governance here.
Sangma said that the other big challenge that the northeastern states as a whole face with respect to connectivity is the proximity to international borders which have poor connectivity as service operators are discouraged to set up towers within 1-2 km of international borders due to policy provisions.
"This is a big hindrance as well as a national security issue as people on the borders often use Bangladesh or Myanmar or perhaps even Chinese mobile network to stay connected with the other parts of the country," he said.
The Chief Minister said that another important aspect of e-Governance is the data that the government collects to make quality decisions for providing better services to the people.
"We as a state government are really looking forward in that line. Data driven governance, when it is actually implemented, can have immense impact at the grassroots level," he added.
He cited the example of the successful model of how technology is being used in Meghalaya to create a database of expectant mothers and using the details of health infrastructure effectively to increase institutional deliveries in the state without incurring extra cost.
"This has gone a long way in improving the figures of maternal mortality rates in the pilot district and this model will be replicated in the other districts within the current financial year," Sangma said
Jitendra Singh, Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), proposed that the conference should adopt a 'Shillong Declaration on e-Governance' so that the important takeaways from the sessions may be referred to and developed upon in the future.
Singh highlighted the importance of increasing awareness among the common people about new citizen-friendly initiatives taken by the government like the dashboards, portals and apps that have been set up by the government to establish citizen-friendly governance.
He also informed that the Ministry of DoNER was keeping up with the pace of digitisation and service delivery through electronic means.
"It has constantly engaged itself with promoting e-governance initiatives that are being taken up by the Northeastern states and that it has extended its support to various externally aided projects proposed by different northeast states in the field of health (telemedicine), education (digitisation of classrooms) etc," he added.